As my sons go to a state school I believe I have a duty to give something back in return for their free education and, as I have four children, I owe more than most.
At the very least we will be part of our school community for a good few years, which is how I found myself I volunteering to be class rep for my second son's Reception year.
It's a decision I have regretted ever since.
It's not that the duties of a class rep are that onerous – all you have to do is organise a few socials, an end of term card and presents for the teachers and a rota of parents to help out at the summer and winter fairs. It's the other parents that make the job such a thankless task.
It all started out quite well as we kicked off with a parents' night out. Almost half the class (a record according to more seasoned reps) turned out on a cold October night to go bowling together and a good time was had by all. I smugly congratulated myself, thinking this class repping business was a piece of cake.
As ever pride came before a fall for the next task was to try to get parent volunteers to bake goodies and man the cake stall at the Winter Fair. All those mums who had promised that, while they were far too busy to actually be a class rep, they would be happy to help out were suddenly anything but.
Here was I a working mother with four small children up till all hours whipping up Victoria sponges and umpteen fairy cakes, while stay at home mums with just one child to their name were far too occupied to even pop to Tesco and pick up a pack of biscuits for us to flog to raise cash for their child's school.
As for getting anyone to help out on the stall, well you can forget that. Pledges to help sell cakes evaporated into thin air the moment I tried to allocate slots on my rota, and once again muggins found herself touting cupcakes all afternoon while my two-year-old twins squirmed under my feet.
I was ready to throw in the towel before I was even a term into the job, but as I knew no one else would take up my mantle I was stuck with it at least until the end of the school year.
I began to suspect that my role as class rep was making me unpopular, and perhaps this is why the next social was so poorly attended. I will admit to trying to kill two birds with one stone by piggybacking our night out onto the PTA Quiz Night, but it was my only hope of flogging even a handful of tickets. Once again people were happy for their children to take advantage of all the extras the PTA raises money for, but unwilling to put their hands in their pockets to contribute.
As the school year rolled on I struggled once again to persuade parents to help with the summer fair. Thank goodness by then I had a stalwart crowd who could be relied upon to step up to the plate when required. Without them I would have been run ragged refereeing the coconut shy as crafty pre-teens tried to con me out of my lollipop prizes all afternoon.
Little did I know that what was to come was the worst job of all – collecting for the teachers' end of year presents. The idea is that rather than the poor teachers being rewarded for putting up with our children for three whole terms with endless sticky boxes of cheap chocolate and less than fragrant gift sets of guest soaps, we all club together and give them a gift they might actually want.
A by product of this is that it saves the other parents the hassle of buying cards and presents, so you would think it was a win-win situation. How wrong you would be. It has elicited nothing but complaints about the suggested donation, the proposed presents, the number of teachers we have to buy for (we have four as we have special needs children in the class) and the most imaginative excuses for forgetting cash I have ever heard.
Sometimes I will have both mother and father swear blind the other has been tasked with giving me cash – on the same day, others claim to have been carrying it with them for days looking for me but, wouldn't you know, today is the day they clean forgot to bring it in. I have become a pariah in the playground as other parents shiftily avoid my glance or sneak past my rattling collecting tin.
Well you ungrateful lot. I give up. I quit as class rep and some other poor mug can take on this thankless task next term. I wish them good luck, just don't try to hold me to any promises to help out at the summer fair or remember to bring cash in for the teachers' end of term presents.
Have you been a class rep? Did you enjoy it or hand on the mantle with relief?